What Is Required To Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful Death ClaimIf you have lost a loved one because of someone’s negligence, you can and should hire Cook Country wrongful death lawyers and sue the guilty party. To make a successful claim, you need to prove the following elements:

Duty of Care

You need to prove that the negligent party had a duty of care, or was in a position to act responsibly regarding the deceased. For example, doctors must ensure that the patients under their care are well taken care of. Similarly, a driver is responsible for ensuring that other drivers and pedestrians are safe from them on the road.

Breach of Care or Duty

If your Cook County wrongful death lawyers determined that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased, they have to prove that they violated that duty. In the case of a negligent doctor, it can be a misdiagnosis or incorrect surgery that leads to death. For a driver, it could be texting while driving, which leads to a fatal accident.


You need to prove that the breach of duty mentioned above was the main reason behind the deceased’s death. In other words, your Cook County wrongful death lawyers will have to prove that the malpractice caused the death or that the fatal accident caused by the distracted driver led to the fatality.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Since the deceased cannot file a lawsuit, their family or heirs can. This can be their children, spouse, or even a court-appointed individual from the family. However, distant relatives may also have this right if the deceased doesn’t have any surviving family members. Your relationship with them is critical when it comes to determining the compensation you may receive.

In some cases, the case may not be based on negligence. If your loved one died because of a faulty product, the wrongful death claim would focus on its effect on you, along with the emotional/financial issues you faced because of it.

Keep in mind that certain agencies or individuals cannot be sued for wrongful death. This includes government agencies and employees. If you still think you have a valid claim against them, get in touch with Robert Edens for a meeting as soon as possible.

Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens for A FREE Consultation

If you lost a dear friend or a family member because of someone’s negligence, get in touch with our wrongful death lawyers in Antioch at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens today. We have been fighting for the rights of people like you for several decades – we are known for representing our clients aggressively if it means they get the compensation they deserve.

From the accident right up to the tragic event, you will be harassed by the insurance company. They will try to reduce the value of your claim so they don’t have to pay as much. Please do NOT talk to them till you have your consultation with us. Get in touch with us for a meeting, and we will explain why you should never do that and the options you have at your disposal.

How Is A Wrongful Death Settlement Paid Out?

Wrongful DeathIf your loved one has died due to the negligence or recklessness of someone else’s behavior, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit determines the compensatory money and damages that you should receive due to the wrongful death of your loved one. While money certainly will not help ease your pain, it can reduce your monetary burden and ensure that you remain financially stable.

The Basics of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit is a form of personal injury lawsuit that can be filed against a person or organization whose negligent or reckless behavior led to the death of another individual.

For instance, if a drunk driver caused a collision that killed your family member, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. Similarly, if a work-related accident, such as an explosion, led to the premature death of your loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against your deceased family member’s employers.

According to Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the deceased person’s family members can file a lawsuit against those responsible for causing the death.

How Is A Wrongful Death Settlement Paid Out?

Under Illinois’s Wrongful Death Act, the deceased person’s spouse and children may be entitled to receive damages in a wrongful death claim.

Even though the deceased’s family members are responsible for filing the wrongful death lawsuit, they don’t directly receive the wrongful death damages. Instead, the court hearing the lawsuit has the power to decide how the money will be allocated to the spouse and children. The law particularly says:

“The amount recovered in any such action shall be distributed … in the proportion, as determined by the court, that the percentage of dependency of each such person upon the deceased person bears to the sum of the percentages of dependency of all such persons upon the deceased person.”

In simple words, the court determines the financial dependence of each family member on the deceased and then proportionately allocates the money. For instance, if a father was bearing his child’s educational expenses, that child might receive a larger share of damages than a child who wasn’t financially dependent on the father.

Personal Injury Attorney

The untimely death of a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences anyone can go through. During this difficult time, having an experienced attorney who is skilled at wrongful death lawsuits is a good idea. Get in touch with us at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens for a consultation today. We can represent you in court and ensure you receive the appropriate amount of damaged. We aim to lower your monetary burden and ensure that you stay financially stable.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

Personal Injury AttorneyWrongful death can be devastating for a family. Wrongful death can occur due to medical malpractice, negligence at work, or an accident. All wrongful death claims in Illinois are covered under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Damages can be sought for funeral, emotional distress, and any liabilities due because of unforeseen events and death. Considering that wrongful deaths due to medical malpractice, drunk driving, or inability to provide safety by employers are common, the next of kin or dependents can file a lawsuit by consulting an experienced personal injury attorney.

Filling a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim can only be filed by an adult child, next of kin, spouse, or a parent of a minor child within one year of the event. In the absence of an estate plan or will, courts can provide a personal representative who will process all wrongful death claims on behalf of the family or relatives. Because a wrongful death claim is classified as a civil lawsuit and not a criminal lawsuit, only monetary damages can be recovered, but a criminal court case can be sought by the federal and state court or enforcement agencies if admission of guilt can result in a conviction.

Collecting Damages

The following monetary damages can be collected by a next of kin:

  • Future wages that could have been earned to support the family,
  • Emotional damages related to grief or sorrow. Emotional distress can cause trauma, depression and anxiety. Also, recovery of expenses in relation to medical treatment can also be sought. A complicated grief can cause deep sadness and bitterness towards others, also leading to social isolation.
  • In case there are no immediate kin or relatives to disburse damages, medical bills related to hospitalization and surgical services can be paid to the individuals who were present with the deceased individual.

Wrongful Death due to Medical Malpractice

It is possible to make both the doctors and the hospital liable for wrongful death due to medical malpractice. If the deceased does not have a next to kin, a probate court appoints a legal representative to manage the case. Medical bills, some loss of earnings, funeral and burial costs and possible loss of support damages can be recovered.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you wish to find out more about wrongful death claims and unusual injuries in Illinois, schedule a free consultation, contact the offices of Robert Edens at (847) 395-2200 to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Police Action and Wrongful Death

There has been a lot of attention in recent months on police responses that have turned deadly.  Some high profile shootings resulted in both criminal and civil lawsuits, much to the surprise of many people who are not familiar with the legal system.  When someone is killed when police are called in response to an incident, family members are often left trying to put the pieces of the traumatic incident back together while at the same time grieving the loss of their loved one.  Further, when the dust settles the family is often left with more questions than answers and sometimes has to turn to litigation to not only find out what happened, but why it happened.  Wrongful death actions can be used to help grieving families obtain justice from those who are sworn to uphold it, even when one of their own was the wrongdoer.

Internal investigation turns public

When a peace officer discharges his gun and someone is shot, an investigation takes place to determine whether the shooting was justified under the circumstances.  The investigation will typically also review whether the officer acted in accordance with the local police department’s rules, regulations, policies and procedures.  This review is usually done “in house” by an internal affairs division or other unit that is specially equipped to handle administrative investigations in an objective manner.  It is standard policy across the country for these investigations to be strictly confidential and the results only to be shared with the local District Attorney’s office to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

This confidentiality is part of what makes the internal affairs process so reliable, in that witnesses are less afraid of retaliation by their colleagues and superiors for assisting in the investigation.  That confidentiality is not absolute in all states, however.  For example, under Illinois law, the outcome of internal affairs investigations may not be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the state’s Freedom of Information Act as they are “public records” under the law. Unless a specific exemption can be proven to apply to the information, the state cannot withhold the requested information.

Wrongful Death

Police shootings, especially those that result in the death of a person, are garnering more and more public attention due to some very high profile incidents in recent history.  There is also a very high level of distrust between police officers and communities involved in such shootings, which causes there to be a higher than normal level of suspicion when an officer is cleared of wrongdoing after a “secret” investigation.  In these instances, the families of victims are not left completely without recourse as they can seek justice in the civil courts by filing a lawsuit under state wrongful death statutes.  So long as the case is filed within the required time period following a deadly shooting, a victim’s family can engage in discovery and find answers in a court of law.  Further, if a jury finds that an officer is guilty under the law, the family can obtain damages.  While no amount of money can replace what they lost, it can help them move forward and send a message to other law enforcement officers that their wrongful actions will not go unpunished.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.


If you or a loved one has questions about Illinois’ wrongful death laws, call the law office of Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C in Waukegan today.  Our skilled attorneys have years of practice obtaining justice for clients in Illinois courts.  We can help answer your questions, or represent you, whichever is best for your situation.



Wrongful Death or Survival Action? Know Before You Go (to Court)

Filing a lawsuit takes more than just a filing fee and an argument.  All levels of the American court system have specific requirements that must be met in order to successfully have “a day in court.”  Thousands of pleadings are dismissed across the country for failing to state their claims in a manner that meets the statutory requirements.  One mistake that is often made is alleging a violation of the wrong law.  Courts are already overburdened and do not have time to fix pleadings that do not allege a violation correctly.  Unfortunately, it can take weeks or even months to discover that a mistake was made.  In some instances, it could mean that the injured party is left without recourse if the statute of limitations has expired during the pendency of the wrongly pleaded lawsuit.

Experienced personal injury attorneys know this as it often happens in cases involving wrongful death actions and survival actions.  The laws governing these actions are very similar, but differ in key ways that could be the difference between recovery and dismissal.

Wrongful Death – Illinois

In a wrongful death action, a plaintiff is claiming that a person or entity caused harm to a loved one and that harm led to the loved one’s death.  In most circumstances in Illinois, the decedent’s loved ones have two years from the date of the person’s death to file a lawsuit for damages.  This is called the statute of limitations.  Failure to file within this time period will mean that the lawsuit is time-barred and the family can no longer seek damages in a court of law.  Caution should be used, however, as the time period can begin to run before the decedent’s death in some circumstances.  If this is the case, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date that the person “knew or should have known” of the injury.

Survival Action

This type of action is similar to a wrongful death action, but is filed to address injuries to the decedent prior to their death.  Take, for example a scenario in which a person’s careless actions caused injuries to another, and that person was forced to obtain expensive surgery or became disabled.  If those injuries later lead to the person’s death, family members of the deceased may bring a survival action to recover the costs incurred during the person’s period of injury (i.e. lost wages, medical expenses).  The statute of limitations for these types of cases is different than for a wrongful death action however.  For a survival action, claims must be brought within one year from the date of the decedent’s death or the end of the limitations period for the underlying claim, whichever is longer.

What this means is that under current Illinois law, while a wrongful death case is pending, the statute of limitations can be running on a survival claim act.  By the time a pleading mistake is discovered the latter claim could be time barred.  Though, the Illinois Supreme Court may change this in the future.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.

Need Help?

If your loved one has been injured by the carelessness or recklessness of another, call today and speak to an experienced attorney about your rights under the law.  The attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C have experience with all aspects of a wrongful death claim and can guide you, or represent you, depending on your circumstances.



Crossing the Line: Police Use of Force and Wrongful Death

When a friend or loved one passes away, that loss leaves a void that is impossible to fill completely. That void is sometimes seen to be greater when the person was lost due to someone else’s careless or reckless action. Legal actions for wrongful death are intended to help those individuals left behind be able to recover a fraction of what they lost, while also bringing attention to the negligent act in an attempt to ensure it does not happen again. Unfortunately in today’s modern society we hear all too regularly of wrongful death actions against those who are sworn to protect and serve. Merely because a wrongdoer is a government agent, such as a police officer, does not mean that they are immune from accountability. There are some limits and specific rules when litigation involves police officers.

Governmental Immunity

Wisconsin law does not allow lawsuits to be brought against state employees (including peace officers) “for or on account of any act growing out of or committed in the course of the discharge of the officer’s…duties.” What this means is that if an officer injures someone while performing his or her duty, such as making an arrest, no lawsuit may be brought to recover damages for those injuries. However, in wrongful death actions, a plaintiff is claiming that the wrongdoer was negligent. If an injury occurs while the officer is acting negligently, then the governmental immunity provisions of the law no longer protect that officer from litigation.

Wrongful Death Action and Damages

In order to bring a wrongful death action in court against an alleged wrongdoer, the decedent’s family member(s), or representative, must file in court within three years after the negligent act. This period begins to run from the moment that the injury leading to death occurred, or in some cases, when the injury was discovered. Ensuring that a case is filed properly within this time period is crucial as missing the deadline can mean that the action will be barred permanently.

The party or parties bringing a wrongful death action, if successful, can recover significant monetary damages. This is not merely to punish the wrongdoer for the negligent act, but to attempt to provide some semblance of an award that attempts to make the plaintiff whole. It is well known that money cannot bring a loved one back or fill the void left by their abrupt departure. However, a victim’s family should not suffer further insult or injury than that which the wrongdoer has already caused. Under Wisconsin law, parties can recover medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, funds to cover lost wages or income to the family, and loss of companionship (up to a statutory limit).

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.


Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence is never easy, but it can be more intimidating when the wrongdoer is in a position of trust. If your loved one has been fatally injured by a negligent actor, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C in Waukegan today. Our experienced staff can discuss your options and provide guidance that you can use to determine your next steps.


Wrongful Death: A Myriad of Negligent Acts

Illinois law defines wrongful death as harm to another that is caused by the negligence or fault of the wrongdoer resulting in death of the injured party. The law allows an individual’s loved ones to sue on his or her behalf for injuries suffered by the deceased individual because that person can no longer pursue a claim against the wrongdoer. This broad definition covers a variety of actions, from medical malpractice to car accidents, and even violent criminal acts. Filing a lawsuit is just the first step in a long process to recovery, but it is also the first step to holding the responsible party accountable for their actions. It is the hope behind personal injury and wrongful death statutes that news of monetary awards will deter future actors from negligent and careless behavior.

Statute of Limitations

Under Illinois law, a plaintiff has two years following the death of their loved one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limitation is governed by law and cannot be extended except in limited situations. For example, if a child loses a parent or guardian their statute of limitations does not begin to “start running” until after they reach the age of majority. What this means is that once a child reaches the age of 18, the age of majority in Illinois, he or she will have two years in which to file a wrongful death claim against those who caused the death of their loved one.


Illinois law also provides for the families of victims to recover damages, or monetary compensation, from any party whose actions contributed to or caused the death of a loved one. Under the law, it does not matter if the death of the individual was caused by criminal activity or civil negligence, all responsible parties may be named in a lawsuit seeking damages. This group includes corporations and businesses, and naming them is very common in medical malpractice or workplace injury actions.

Under the law, a jury will listen to the evidence against all parties and determine an amount that is deemed to be “fair and just compensation” to account for actual losses as well as less tangible losses such as grief or mental suffering. Illinois law uses a theory of contributory negligence when determining how much each party must pay to a victim’s family or other recovering party. Essentially, this means that even though there is a finding that the victim was partially at fault for the injury that led to his or her death, that will not absolve other wrongdoers of their liability. The statute specifically accounts for this scenario and states that the contributory negligence of the victim or beneficiary “shall not be a defense” but any damage award will be reduced by that percentage before being awarded to the plaintiff. For example, if the deceased individual was killed by a car as he or she was crossing the street, the defendant could present evidence to show that the pedestrian was partially at fault (i.e. not in a crosswalk or walking against the ‘do not walk’ sign) and the damages award could be reduced by the court.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.


If your loved one has been injured by someone else’s wrongful act or omission, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today. Our Barrington attorneys have years of experience with Illinois’ wrongful death statutes and can help you start on your path to recovery. We understand that no amount of money can replace what you have lost. However, we also understand the importance of holding wrongdoers accountable under the law.


Wrongful Death in Workers’ Compensation? Not Exactly

The Illinois workers’ compensation system, much like systems across the country, was designed to provide injured workers with a mechanism for recovery from injury that was less costly and faster than litigation. Before the system was created, injured employees whose employers did not take responsibility for their injuries had to take the employer to court and prove that it was liable before they were able to obtain benefits. Such a system was heavily in the employer’s favor as most employees could not afford to fight their employer in court and receive care for their injuries at the same time. After the creation of the workers’ compensation system, employees who were injured while performing the duties of their position were able to obtain immediate care at the expense of their employer. One area into which this system extends is with regard to death benefits.

“Death Benefits,” or more aptly, Survivors’ Benefits

Unlike lawsuits under wrongful death statutes, families of workers who are killed while on the job must seek any recovery for their loss under Illinois’ workers’ compensation statutes. This is because the family of the worker essentially steps into the place of their loved one and accepts benefits in his or her stead. Not all family members are entitled to survivors’ benefits, however, as the statute specifies exactly who may recover for the loss. According to Illinois law, full benefits are payable to the spouse and/or children of the deceased worker. These benefits continue indefinitely until the spouse remarries, or the children reach a certain age (with an exception for dependents who are physically or mentally disabled). If the worker has no spouse or children, the survivors’ benefits can be payable to any dependent parents, grandparents, or other heirs who were “at least 50% dependent” on the employee at the time of his or her death.

As stated previously, the workers’ compensation system is designed to ensure that workers receive prompt and effective care for injuries, without regard to who was at fault for the incident causing the injury. This system protects employers as much as employees and was designed to provide as much of a “win-win” situation as possible whenever a traumatic event occurs in the workplace. Employers benefit from less time they must operate without the injured employee because faster treatment often leads to less time the employee is out of work. Further, both parties are encouraged to continue to move forward after an incident rather than become embroiled in protracted litigation to prove who or what was at fault for the accident. This system can provide closure in the event of an employee’s death for the employer as well as the survivors by allowing for a mechanism through which the circumstances surrounding a loved one’s death is neither ignored nor drawn out unnecessarily.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.

Need a guide?

Even though the workers’ compensation system was designed to allow for fairly swift recovery in the event a loved one is injured or killed in the workplace, there are rules that must be followed in order for a survivor to recover the benefits to which they are entitled. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace and you have questions about recovering against an employer, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Antioch today. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting to protect workers and ensure that they receive what they are owed quickly, despite an employer’s recalcitrance.


Auto Accidents and Wrongful Death

In the beautiful, bustling City of Chicago, car accidents are almost a fact of life. Just about every commuter here has either been involved in an accident him or herself, or knows someone who has. Auto accidents in Chicago range from the common fender bender to multiple vehicle pile-ups. Some simply disrupt the driver’s day, while others disrupt entire lives. When one driver behaves negligently on the road and causes damage to you or your vehicle, the law requires that driver to compensate you for the damage. When a driver behaves recklessly and causes a fatality, the family of the deceased is entitled to compensation. This is known as a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death

In Illinois, the controlling law in this type of suit is known as the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The Act allows the surviving spouse or children of the deceased to bring a claim against a defendant whose negligence caused the death. In order to bring a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show:

  1.     The defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased victim;
  2.     The defendant breached that duty; and
  3.     The plaintiff sustained pecuniary damages as a result of the breach.

Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages are monetary damages. Illinois law allows a plaintiff, bringing suit on behalf of the deceased, to recover monetary damages for “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent customarily contributed in the past,” and the “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent was likely to have contributed in the future.” Courts will generally presume that a child or spouse will suffer a loss of companionship where the spouse or parent has died in an untimely manner. Unless the defendant can show otherwise, such as showing the spouse or child did not speak to the deceased, the court will presume the plaintiff is entitled to some amount of pecuniary damages.

Auto Accidents

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that in 2012 there were 956 crash fatalities on Illinois roads. That’s 956 parents, husbands, grandparents, wives, and children who never returned home to their loved ones. Many of these accidents were the result of the negligence of a driver on the Illinois roads. Each and every driver in Illinois owes a duty to operate their car in a reasonable manner on the roadways. When a driver breaches this duty, injuries and property damage can result. Under Illinois law, drivers who behave negligently and cause injury or property damage are responsible to compensate those who are injured. This is especially true where the injury results in a fatality and deprives a family of one of its members.


Waukegan Personal Injury & Auto Accident Lawyers


If your loved one has been the victim of a fatal car accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for your loss. Proving exactly how much you are entitled to is difficult and can be complicated by the involvement of an insurance adjuster. During a time of grieving this process can become overwhelming. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for a free consultation.